猫窝:岛主抄书

HEATHER HORN: What Turns a Soldier Into a Mass Murderer?

德国展开了一项对约翰•汉斯•布雷耶调查,这位87岁的费城人是臭名昭著的奥斯维辛集中营的一名纳粹党卫军守卫。问题是,该不该将他视为那几十万杀戮者中的一员呢?鉴于第二次世界大战距离我们越来越久远,这种调查有可能是最后一次。

是什么让士兵变成了杀人恶魔?

译者:方卉原文作者:Heather Horn

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图片说明:德国军队处决巴尔迪城(Balti)犹太人之前几个小时的情景。(资料来源:维基百科)

德国展开了一项调查,调查一位87岁的费城(Philadelphia)人——约翰•汉斯•布雷耶(Johann ‘Hans’ Breyer)。他是臭名昭著的——没人会否认这一点,特别是汉斯自己——奥斯维辛集中营的一名纳粹党卫军(SS)守卫。问题是,该不该将他视为那几十万杀戮者中的一员呢?鉴于第二次世界大战距离我们越来越久远,这种调查有可能是最后一次。这意味着审判那些还活着的人的进度慢了下来,同时也意味着人们开始以新的眼光对逝者进行历史考察。

比如,就在上周,美国出版了扣人心弦的《士兵:战争、杀戮与死亡——二战时期德国战俘的机密录音》(Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying–the Secret World War II Tapes of German POWs)的首个英文版本。该书由历史学家荣克·雷特泽尔(Sönke Neitzel)和心理学家哈拉尔德·韦尔策(Harald Welzer)合著而成,书中所记录和分析的不是纳粹党卫军守卫队首脑间的会话,而是被英军俘虏的普通德国士兵、水手和飞行员之间的对话。

人们通常认为,第二次世界大战的罪魁祸首非德国莫属,而且认为主要应归罪于纳粹党卫军——纳粹党准军事部队——而不应归罪于普通的应征士兵。这两种观点都不正确,虽然两种观点曾一度盛行,尤其是在同盟国需要与苏维埃共和国(Soviet)联合作战(针对第一种观点)和西方德国政府感到极度需要握手言和以保持战后社会的稳定(针对第二种观点)两个时期。

人们普遍认为普通士兵是清白无辜的,直到1995年,德国举办的以德国国防军的战争罪行为主题的展览粉碎了这一观点。各种畅销书及历史活动详细叙述了二战后期纳粹以毒气残害犹太人、在东欧大规模射杀犹太人以及蓄意饿死苏维埃囚犯等种种罪行,也让人们认识了德国国防军的真实嘴脸。

《士兵》在所有介绍二战时期滔天罪行的书籍中并不是最好的(如果想了解更多,可以看看耶鲁大学历史学家蒂莫西·施耐德的《血染的土地》(Bloodlands),这本书深刻地综述了二战时期的情况,饱受赞誉)。但是该书不允许非历史学家阅读士兵向战友对自己的行为所给出的解释。书中涉及很多有意思的问题——士兵对技术的了解和态度、他们对希特勒的态度以及他们对德国有几分把握赢得战争的态度——但是人们最关心的好像还是他们就战争罪行和种族灭绝问题的讨论。

“我们搞沉了一个小孩的交通工具,”一个投弹手承认道,作者注释称他指的可能是1940年沉没的一艘英国客轮。“说到净化种族血统的问题,”另一个投弹手说道,这次谈到了犹太妇女:“……在里加(RIGA,拉脱维亚共和国首都——译者注),他们先是强暴犹太妇女,再枪杀她们灭口。”或者想一想在专为士兵设立的西欧妇女妓院里的状况,“符合种族要求的”妇女被强行带到这里:“她们每小时要接待14到15个男人,妓院隔一天换一批妇女,在那儿我们埋葬了不计其数的妇女。”

有些士兵只是目睹了纳粹党卫军处决犹太人的过程,其他士兵好像还参与其中。有些士兵被吓坏了,但并没有反对这种行径。“我可以处死我犯了罪的同伴,但是却不能处死妇女和孩子——特别是幼龄儿童!孩子的尖叫声还有其它等等……我做不到。”一名中尉说道。其实,冷静的分析比自吹自擂更加可怕。

奥厄(Aue):可能我们在东欧杀光犹太人的做法是不对的。

施耐德(Schneider):毫无疑问,我们犯了个错误。但是,总没有策略失误那么严重吧。我们可以晚些时候在那么做的。

奥厄:应该在我们自身强大以后再干掉他们的。

施耐德:我们应该将这一计划推迟些时日的,因为犹太人不但现在是,而且将一直是有影响力的民族,特别是美国的犹太人。

雷特泽尔和韦尔策完成了一部非常罕见但又的确涵盖了多种学科的著作。他们以心理学家和历史学家的双重视角分析了这些暴徒的夸夸其谈以及他们支支吾吾不敢吐露的反对意见。士兵们是在哪儿吐露心声的呢?是什么地方让他们虽处于集体环境中却仍能表现得像大多数人一样呢?能从外貌和行为方面判断出一名士兵是不是纳粹主义者(National Socialist,1933~1945年间德国的国社党党员,纳粹党人——国社党党员,纳粹党人——译者注)吗?雷特泽尔和韦尔策详细检测了这些士兵似非而是的道德观:射杀一个被从飞机中驱逐出来的敌方飞行员从来不是什么光彩的事儿,然而杀戮平民却能得到认可;认为处决战俘无可厚非,但却对饿死战俘感到惊恐不已。

两位作者最终搞清楚了:今天我们所认为的战争罪行在那个时候同样会被认为是战争罪行,而且会被视为标准。二人在公开纳粹士兵甚至是非纳粹士兵骇人听闻的观点时,都夸大了所谓的“德军罪行”,并且说明了德国的特殊主义或者我们所说的纯种观念、异族魔鬼的理论是多么的不可理喻,他们这样解释说:恼人的事实是,跟研究人员在其它战争中所见到的一样,士兵们并不需要逐步适应暴力,他们不需要循序渐进就能变成职业杀手。雷特泽尔和韦尔策暗示说,残忍是大多数人的本能:只不过是何种社会环境会诱使他们施暴的问题。

因此,《士兵》以一条关于人的处境的警示录结尾。虽然人们体内暴力的种子不一定是“蠢蠢欲动,在薄弱的文明外壳下等待着被释放”,雷特泽尔和韦尔策说道,“但是一旦涉及到促进自身生存的问题,人类永远都会选择暴力。”就算结果可能是仅仅提高了他们的社会地位,他们也依然会选择暴力。

从这个角度看,什么也不能抵消汉斯•布雷耶可能曾犯下的罪行,虽然众多跟他犯下相似甚至是更严重罪行的士兵生前肯定没被判罪,其中许多人甚至都没有被起诉过。矛盾不是放弃追求正义的理由,但是它的确给了我们某些启发:我们要以旁观者的眼光谨慎处理调查纳粹党人这个问题,即使布雷耶是最后一个调查对象——或者说,特别是在布雷耶是最后一个调查对象的情况下。

调查和审判同时进行,毕竟他们的终极目标是将一个人判为“有罪”或者“无罪”。“无罪”将这个人归于大众一边,而“有罪”则将给他贴上“离经叛道、危害社会”的标签(通常会通过监禁或者处死等手段将其同大众剥离)。在触及犯罪问题,特别是当他们的观点与当代人的情感背道而驰时,极其容易将犯罪者视为异族或者是残酷恶魔的使者。但是《士兵》却提出,其实德国士兵是同我们一样的人。他们“不会危害社会”,因为他们作为人还没有能力危害社会,换句话说,他们之所以会危害社会,是他们所处的社会使然。

这不是在为士兵们开脱罪名,但这确实意味着当代历史学家就二战进行的辩论并不纯粹是学术性的,很容易抓住其内在专一性的把柄:纳粹激进主义与意识形态和官僚主义有关吗?与失业问题和地理政治学上的憎恶有关吗?与某种厌恶和仅仅更加有效的武器有关吗?要想理解人类怎么会成为《士兵》中的士兵——或者说成为汉斯•布雷耶,理解这些问题有着至关重要的作用。

What Turns a Soldier Into a Mass Murderer?

As Germany investigates an 87-year-old man for atrocities at Auschwitz, a new book suggests that not just the SS but ordinary German servicemen were complicit in war crimes.

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Photograph thought to show German forces with Jews from the city of Balti, hours before execution. (Wikimedia)

Germany has launched an investigation of Johann ‘Hans’ Breyer, an 87-year-old Philadelphia man. That he was an SS guard at the infamous Auschwitz, no one, least of all him, disputes. The issue is whether he should be considered an accessory to hundreds of thousands of murders. Given our increasing distance from the time of World War II, this could be the last investigation of its kind. And while that means trials of the living are winding down, it also means the historical investigations of the dead are gaining fresh perspective.

Just last week, for example, the first English edition of the gripping Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying–the Secret World War II Tapes of German POWs was published in the U.S. A collaboration between historian Sönke Neitzel and psychologist Harald Welzer, the book presents and analyzes a series of conversations among not the elite Nazi SS guards, but ordinary German soldiers, navy men, and airmen, captive in British camps.

Conventional myth on the crimes of World War II has held (a) that they were almost exclusively German, and (b) that they were almost exclusively perpetrated by the SS — the Nazi Party paramilitary organization — rather than by ordinary conscripts. Neither of these two points is true, though they were certainly convenient for a time, especially (in the case of the first) when the Allies required Soviet cooperation, and (in the case of the second) when the West German government desperately felt the need to forgive and forget in order to maintain a stable post-war society.

Widespread belief in the innocence of ordinary soldiers was shattered in 1995, though, with an exhibition in Germany on the war crimes of the Wehrmacht, the German army. Popular books and history programs detailing not just the gassing of Jews late in the war but the mass shootings in Eastern Europe, and the deliberate starvation of Soviet prisoners, have done the rest of the work.

Soldaten is not the best introduction to the atrocities of World War II (for that, try Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlandsa highly praised and profoundly disturbing overview). But the book does allow non-historians to read soldiers’ own accounts of their actions, as spoken to other soldiers. There’s much of interest here — the soldiers’ knowledge and attitude toward technology, their attitude toward Hitler, and their perception of the German chances of winning — but their discussion of war crimes and genocide seems likely to draw the most attention.

“We sank a children’s transport,” admits one bomber, likely referring to an English passenger ship sunk in 1940, the authors note. “Talk about keeping the race pure,” says another, speaking of Jewish women this time: “… at RIGA they first slept with them and then shot them to prevent them from talking.” Or consider what was revealed of the brothels set up for soldiers with Western European, “racially suitable” women brought in by force: “Every woman had 14-15 men an hour. They changed the women every two days. We buried a lot of women there.”

Some soldiers witnessed the executions of the Jews by the SS. Others seem to have participated. Some appear horrified, but not morally opposed. “I could kill fellows who had committed crimes, but women and children — and tiny children! The children scream and everything,” says a Lieutenant. In other cases, the cool analysis is more shocking than the boasts.

Aue: Perhaps we didn’t always do right in killing Jews in masses in the East.

Schneider: It was undoubtedly a mistake. Well, not so much a mistake as un-diplomatic. We could have done that later.

Aue: After we had finally established ourselves.

Schneider: We should have put it off until later, because Jews are, and will always remain, influential people, especially in America.

Neitzel and Welzer have put together a rare, truly interdisciplinary work. They examine both the boasts of brutality and the squeamish or principled objections with a psychologist’s lens as well as a historian’s. Where are the soldiers revealing their true feelings? Where are they behaving as most humans do in group situations? Did being National Socialists make a discernible difference in the soldiers’ outlooks or actions? And Neitzel and Welzer examine the soldiers’ paradoxical moral frameworks at length: It was always dishonorable to shoot at an enemy airman who had ejected from his plane, but often acceptable to mow down civilians; understandable to execute prisoners of war, but horrifying to starve them to death.

The authors make it clear that acts counting as war crimes today were not the exception but the norm. They both magnify so-called “German guilt” by showing the appalling attitudes even of non-Nazi soldiers, and show how unsatisfactory German exceptionalism or our conception of a pure, alien evil is at explaining it: The disturbing truth is that, comparable to what researchers have seen in other wars, the soldiers didn’t require a gradual hardening to violence to be able to engage in murder. Most humans, Neitzel and Welzer suggest, are capable of brutality: it’s just a question of what the social setting they are put in encourages.

Soldaten accordingly concludes on a sobering note about the human condition. Though violence is not necessarily “bubbling, waiting to be released, just below the thin crust of civilization,” say Neitzel and Welzer, “human beings have perennially chosen the option of violence when it seemed likely to promote their own survival.” They have chosen it even when it was merely likely to promote their social standing.

Nothing in this perspective diminishes the crimes that Hans Breyer might be guilty of, though countless men guilty of similar or worse deeds have doubtless gone unconvicted, many even unprosecuted. Inconsistency isn’t a reason to abandon attempts at justice. But it does suggest something about why we should be careful about treating Nazi hunts as a spectator’s sport, even if Breyer’s case is the last of its kind — or especially if Breyer’s case is the last of its kind.

Investigations and trials favor dualities. Their eventual goal, after all, is to categorize individuals as “guilty” or “not guilty.” “Not guilty” places the individual on the side of society at large. “Guilty” labels him a deviant, bad for society (often reinforced by his removal from society through imprisonment or execution). It’s especially easy to see the perpetrator as alien, as an agent of pure inhuman evil, in the case of crimes particularly repulsive to contemporary sensibilities. But Soldaten argues that German soldiers were not in fact differenttypes of humans than we are. They weren’t “bad for society” because they were insufficiently human, in other words; they became bad for humanity because of the society they were living in.

That doesn’t absolve the soldiers of guilt. But it does mean that contemporary historians’ debates about the context of World War II, so easily ridiculed for their insidery specificity, are not purely academic: Was Nazi radicalism about ideology or bureaucracy? Unemployment or geopolitical resentments? A unique hate or simply more efficient weapons? These are crucial questions for understanding how humans could have chosen to become the soldiers of Soldaten — or Hans Breyer.

HEATHER HORN is an associate editor at The Atlantic. She is a former features editor and staff writer for The Atlantic Wire, and was previously a research assistant at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/what-turns-a-soldier-into-a-mass-murderer/263138/

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This entry was published on 2013/07/29 at 12:54. It’s filed under 岛主抄书 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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